A French soldier serving with Nato has been arrested and placed under investigation on suspicion of spying for Russia, reports The Times.
The lieutenant-colonel, who is in his 50s but has not been named, was detained as he was leaving France at the end of a summer holiday to return to Nato’s southern command in Naples.
Florence Parly, the armed forces minister, told Europe 1, a radio station: “What I can confirm is that a senior officer is facing legal proceedings for a security breach. The defence ministry took the initiative and brought in the state prosecutor. We took all the necessary security measures and now we should let the justice system do its work in keeping with the secrecy that governs investigation.” The officer, said to have five children, has family ties to Russia and speaks the language.
The radio station said that he had been observed in contact with an agent of the GRU, the Russian military intelligence service, in Italy. “As soon as suspicions were aroused France did not want to take the risk of continuing to let him act,” it added. The man was arrested ten days ago by officers of the General Directorate for Internal Security, the domestic intelligence service, and is being held in a prison near Paris.
He is being held on preliminary charges of compromising national defence secrets and sharing intelligence with a foreign power that threatens the nation’s fundamental interests, judicial officials said.